A lot of manufacturers advertise their 28-32 inch suitcases as checked luggage. However, technically, that’s false advertising. The truth is that a large portion of 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32-inch suitcases are over the size limits for checked bags, so they can’t be used as checked bags. If you’d try to check in these bags, potentially, the clerk at the check-in desks could deem them oversized and ask you to pay additional fees or not allow using them altogether.
In this article, you’ll learn the main size restrictions for checked luggage, and how to understand which checked bags are oversized and which aren’t. We’ll also share some checked bags that are just within the size limits and answer other important questions.
We have a more in-depth guide on luggage sizes over here but in this article, we’ll talk mainly about checked luggage.
The Size and Weight Restrictions for Checked Luggage
Pretty much all airlines allow passengers to bring one or two checked bags within 62 linear inches (157 cm). There also are weight limits, but they’re different for each airline and flight class, usually ranging between 50-70 lbs (23-32 kg).
The rules for checked luggage are so similar between airlines because they’re enforced by the flight authorities, not the airlines themselves (FAA, IATA, and others). To protect the baggage handlers from injuries, these rules state that each checked bag should weigh no more than 50 lbs (23 kg), and it should be under 62 linear inches (157 cm). However, they do state that bags up to 70 lbs (32 kg) will be accepted, but must be marked as “overweight”. Anything over that won’t be allowed at all.
When it comes to checked luggage weight restrictions, more expensive airlines will allow more checked bags for free, with lesser weight restrictions. Budget airlines, on the other hand, usually have stricter rules for checked luggage, with tighter weight requirements and higher fees. Before you fly, and even as you are in the planning stages of your trip, it’s best to check with the airline to avoid paying extra fees.
How to Measure Linear Inches (Height + Width + Depth)
Airlines measure checked luggage in linear inches, which is a measurement meant to describe how large an object is in three dimensions – height, width, and depth. To measure linear inches, you need to use a tape measure and measure the height of your suitcase (top to bottom), the width (side to side), and the depth (front to back). Then you need to add these three measurements together.
Don’t forget to include the wheels, handles, and anything else that’s “sticking out”. You should always measure each dimension at the widest point, not the narrowest.
For example, the Samsonite Winfield 2 28-inch checked suitcase has the total overall dimensions of 31 (height) x 20 (width) x 12.75 (depth) inches. To get linear inches, we need to add up 31 + 20 + 12.75, which equals 63.75 linear inches. Since airlines require a linear measurement of 62 inches (157 cm), this bag would most likely be marked as “oversized checked luggage”, and you’d need to pay additional fees.
Is 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, and 32-Inch Checked Luggage Within 62 Linear Inches?
The main issue with checked luggage is that in advertising, manufacturers only describe the height of the bag, such as 28 inches, 32 inches, etc. However, airlines don’t really care about this. They care only about the total sum of the height, width, and depth of the bag, which must be under 62 inches (157 cm). And quite often, checked suitcases are above this limit.
We did an experiment to find out how many checked bags are over 62 linear inches on average, based on how large they’re advertised as. Down below, you can see the results from our research, which included data for 159 popular checked suitcases.
|Adverdised As||Linear Inches (on Average)||% of Suitcases Over 62 Linear Inches|
Our research revealed that 43% of bags advertised as “checked-large”, are over the 62 linear-inch limit. You can only safely buy suitcases advertised as up to 26-inches, knowing that all of them will be under this limit. Anything over that, and there’s pretty much a one-in-two chance that it’s over 62 linear inches.
So the only real way to know for sure is to do the calculations yourself. Look at the product description, either on amazon, or even better directly on the manufacturer’s website, and find out the suitcase dimensions with wheels and handles included. After that, add them up to find out if the bag really is below 62 linear inches.
Read Next: What if Your Carry-on Is 1 Inch Too Big?
Conclusion: What’s the Largest Luggage Size for Check-In?
All checked suitcases need to be below 62 linear inches in size (height + width + depth). If you’re looking for a checked suitcase that isn’t oversized, look for 24, 25, 26, or 27-inch checked luggage. Most of these will be just below the 62-inch limit, which is just what you’re looking for if you want to efficiently use up the space in your checked suitcase.
Of course, some 28, 29, 30, 31, or even 32-inch options might also be within the right size but from our own research, a large portion of them was oversized with wheels and handles included in the measurements. To find out for sure, you need to calculate linear inches yourself, by finding out the correct dimensions within the product description.
Read Next: 8 Best 62-Inch Checked Suitcases in 2022
Best 62-Inch Checked Suitcases
There are a lot of checked bags that are just within 62 linear inches. To save some time on your research, down below we listed some of the best ones.
Best Overall: Samsonite Base Boost
Runner-Up: Travelpro Maxlite Air
Most Durable: Pelican Air 1615
Best High-End: Briggs & Riley ZDX
Reliable & Affordable: Samsonite Freeform
Good-Looking: American Tourister Moonlight
Affordable: Kenneth Cole Out of Bounds
Frequently Asked Questions About Checked Luggage Size
What are the largest checked baggage dimensions for international travel?
Almost all airlines across the world have a single size restriction for checked luggage – 62 linear inches / 157 cm, which means the total sum of the height, width, and depth. Your checked bags need to be under this limit when traveling internationally, otherwise, they’ll be marked as oversized and you’ll need to pay additional fees. For example, an acceptable suitcase size would be 30 x 20 x 12 inches (76 x 51 x 30 cm), because, in total, it’s exactly 62 linear inches.
How strict are airlines about checked luggage size?
If your checked bag is just 1-3 linear inches above 62 linear inches, then most likely, you won’t have any issues with checking it in. That’s because luggage is measured with a regular tape measure at the check-in desks, and the clerk has to account for some room for error. It’s different from carry-on luggage, where each bag has specific height, width, and depth requirements to fit into measuring boxes.
A general rule of thumb is that your luggage shouldn’t look crazily oversized – if it’s just a few inches, that’s okay, and most likely, the airline employee won’t even measure it. The airlines aren’t so strict about checked luggage because it’s stored in the cargo hold of the plane, where there’s plenty of room.
Are wheels and handles included in checked luggage measurements?
Yes, wheels and handles need to be included in the checked luggage measurements. In fact, anything that’s “sticking out” needs to be included, as you always need to measure the widest part of your suitcase.
Manufacturers often list a slightly smaller, incorrect size with larger letters, which doesn’t include the wheels and handles, and is called “packing size” or “suitcase size”. That’s why when looking at the product descriptions, always look for the “overall size”.
How is checked luggage measured?
At the check-in desks, checked luggage is measured with a typical tape measure by the airline employee. They’ll typically measure the height of the bag and then wrap the tape measure around the width of the bag to calculate linear inches. Because this method isn’t perfect, most likely they won’t bat an eye if your checked bag is just 1-3 inches above the 62 linear inch limit.
What if my checked luggage is over 62 linear inches (oversized)?
If your checked bag is over 62 linear inches (157 cm), it will be marked as oversized. This is a rule set by airline regulators to protect baggage handlers from any potential injuries. You’ll need to pay a hefty fee for oversized baggage, which usually ranges between 75-200$.
There also are size limits for oversized bags, which are different for each airline. If your oversized bag is over this limit, then it won’t be accepted at all. Here are the limits for oversized checked bags for some of the most popular airlines:
American Airlines: 126 linear inches (320 cm)
Delta Air Lines: 80 linear inches (203 cm)
Southwest Airlines: 80 linear inches (203 cm)
United Airlines: 115 linear inches (292 cm)
Frontier Airlines: 110 linear inches (279 cm)
Emirates: 118 linear inches (300 cm)
What if my checked luggage is over 70 lbs / 32 kg (overweight)?
If your luggage is over the checked baggage size limit, which depends on the airline you’re flying with and usually ranges between 50-70 lbs (23-32 kg), it will be marked as overweight baggage, and you’ll need to pay additional fees, which range anywhere between 100-400$.
In Europe, South Africa, Cuba, Australia, and New Zealand, the laws prohibit passengers from transporting bags over 70 lbs (32 kg), so if your bag weighs over this and you’re flying through these regions, it won’t be accepted at all.
In North America, South America, and most of Asia, the local laws allow for heavier bags. For additional fees, some airlines accept bags up to 100 lbs (45 kg), depending on the airline. Down below, you can find the maximum weight of overweight checked bags for some of the most popular airlines.
American Airlines: 70-100 lbs (32-45 kg) depending on the flight details
Delta Air Lines: 70-100 lbs (32-45 kg) depending on the flight details
Southwest Airlines: 100 lbs (45 kg)
United Airlines: 70-100 lbs (32-45 kg) depending on the flight details
Frontier Airlines: 100 lbs (45 kg)
Emirates: 70 lbs (32 kg)
How many checked bags am I allowed to bring?
On flights with more expensive airlines, you’ll be allowed to bring one or two checked bags for free. When flying with budget airlines, you’ll typically get none because they only include hand luggage in the fare price.
Additional checked bags over this limit will have to be paid for with additional fees for each checked bag. Usually, the fees increase by the total bag count. They might start with 30-50$ for the first bag and cost upwards of 100-200$ per bag for the second, third, and fourth bags. If you’re flying as a family or together with friends, a good idea would be to split all of the bags evenly for each person, which would result in lower checked baggage fees.
Usually, you’re allowed to bring a maximum of 10 checked bags per passenger. On some destinations, and with certain airlines, the total count might be lower due to country-specific restrictions, such as 2-7 bags.
What’s the largest luggage size in liters?
All checked bags need to be under 62 linear inches (157 cm) to fit within the airline size requirements. If your hypothetical bag would be block-shaped, and exactly 20.66 inches wide on each side (exactly 62 linear inches), it would be 144.5 liters in size.
In reality, the largest checked bags within the size requirements go up to 100 liters in volume. That’s because you also have to account for the wheels and handles, which are included in the measurements, and suitcases aren’t square-shaped, so they have less volume inside. For example, the 30-Inch Eagle Creek ORV, which is exactly 61.5 linear inches in size, has a capacity of 97 liters, so is one of the roomiest 62-inch suitcases on the market.